P e r s i m m o n s fall 2012 Editors-in-Chief Kurestin Armada Melissa Nigro
Editorial Staff Jordi Alonso Elizabeth Friedman Louisa Ashford Rachel Gorsky Payton Cuddy Lucie Levine Cheyenne Davis David Miller Ellie Dawson Cristina Nunes Andrew Ebner Austin Smiley Claire Weibel
Design Kurestin Armada Melissa Nigro
Cover Art When I Was A Boy â€” Luke Hodges
Kenyon College email@example.com
5 Robert Angell 31 Melissa Nigro
H.M.S. Patroclus whiskey and other spirits
p ro s e 27 42 3 19 11 22 33 39 14
Ariana Chomitz plane and tractor, wynkoop airport Elizabeth Friedman sc dragonfly Luke Hodges the gate Noah Johnson weary adventurer Avery Myers-Regulinkski femme fatale her eyes Melissa Nigro angular momentum Claudia Pepe mariposa nocturna Kelsey Rice cello
a rt 12 27 37 39 9 28
Jordi Alonso fragment 113 Rachel Gorsky a translation (admittedly guided) Carolin Hahnemann autumn day Paul Hoehn the flypaper Olivia Lott a probable constantino cavafis at age 19 he who never understood
t r a n s l at i o n
all works published under the creative commons
p o e t r y
44 2 45 14 23 17 46 43 10 29 11 18 4 16 38 1 20 15 21 2 34 22 35 47 41 42
Avery Anderson muddy rivers Gabriella Alziari bath Jordi Alonso ode to bread Andrew Ebner overture 23 views on the utah cliffs Elizabeth Friedman â€œyou could build a table on itâ€? Rachel Gorsky one drink and the southboud train Emily Graf heirlooms Tim Jurney colorado facts slave revolt poems Daniel Kipp rheumatism the best part of bedford Nathaniel Lotze psalm 82 David Miller beloved -ingland Linda Mullin creationism Reagan Neviska inverted sugar syrup William Plaschke c2 tomb raider Natalie Wardlaw i am the flesh of the full moon what is lost Lucas Ropek clown Hannah Saiz postcard poems intersection Claire Weibel unbounded flight Rim Yoseph the i that is you
photo credit: claudia pepe
attribution-noncommercial-sharealike 3.0 unported license
Cre a t i o n ism
linda mullin The words swirl into being like stardust becomes the swirling Milky Way. Crystallized, they trickle down, catch and tug on nerves, a snag in spider silk revealing pale blue sky. Fingers curl around the pen and guide themselves in a practiced danceâ€” the ink becomes a prayer.
1 Âˇ Persimmons
I Am t h e Fl esh o f th e Fu ll Moon
written in response to Kiki Smith’s piece Europa I am the flesh of the full moon that stands out two soft breasts of pale mortal complexion glowing in the iridescent sheen of the night.
I am the flesh of the full moon that stands rigid in the absence of her king who never really inhabited this world longer than a tide.
I am the flesh of the full moon that wandered lonely through Pastures, limp flowers dangling from entwined fingers reaching out for something firm to hold.
I am the flesh of the full moon that holds child against bosom wrapped tightly in a blanket of empty promises that say one day he will be king.
I am the flesh of the full moon that when broken open spills the sweet nectar of suckling life, creating the hope of new worlds.
I am the flesh of the full moon who looks always skyward to the cold blackness where the bull gazes commemoratively down, studded in apologetic stars.
I am the flesh of the full moon that held fast to the back of the star white bull who charged madly into the water that swallowed us whole.
I am the flesh of the full moon who wanes into disconnect once treasured but soon discarded, smooth skin now crinkled into ash.
I am the flesh of the full moon silhouetted against the craggy forms of an island now my home, where beast revealed himself as man, as god. I am the flesh of the full moon that stains red blood against white linens as fingernails scratch and the illusion of immortality is shattered in the cries of a new born.
Fall 2012 · 2
Ba t h
gabriella alziari at night i lower my body towards the bathwater wrinkle my fingers, slip into weightlessness, peel my skin and spread my toes
The Gate 路 Luke Hodges
3 路 Persimmons
“ Ps a l m 8 2”
nathaniel lotze It’s not fair, she said, to have something you love taken away from you Happening with abrupt intensity like a lightning strike on the prairie, turning into Fire on the ground before anyone can do anything In minutes the thick, black, choking smoke rises Some great tribute to destruction And when it is all over the charred Earth rests in silence. But, he said, sometimes it leaves gradually, moves away slowly though Still too fast to be stopped and that is when it hurts the most When hope goes away with the lights of some far off Desert town, flickering out when the conquistador that Is daybreak comes flooding over the stacked mesas to the east And the night sky drains into some other world. It is not good, they say, to be partial to the wicked or To deprive the innocent of justice but so much just escapes us these days Some people grasp, clutch, strain in empty spaces Motivated by desperate nostalgia, pleading for rescue Others turn their backs as their eyes cloud and heads shift ever So slightly downward, necks holding more than they can bear.
Fall 2012 · 4
H . M. S . Patro cl u s
The deck of the H.M.S. Patroclus during the Napoleonic Wars. The crew of the ship is represented by standing wooden figures, almost like higher-quality cardboard cutouts. The figures are barely discernible in the near total darkness. Center stage, under a spotlight, ABLE SEAMAN JAMES TENNANT is tied to the mast and being flogged by the BOSUN with a cat o’ nine tails. Tennant tries his best not to change his expression, but he is gritting his teeth. The Bosun counts each lash. BOSUN Two ‘undred forty-five. Two ‘undred forty-six. Lights up on ABLE SEAMAN JACK PIPER, stage left. He is among the crowd of wooden sailors. He remains completely still. He faces out to the audience and addresses them directly. The Bosun and Tennant cannot hear what he says. His face is stoic, but there is emotion in his voice. The Bosun continues to flog Tennant. PIPER Should be me up there. (Pause) I’s in on it, too. James won’ be tellin’ ‘em none, though. Not the type o’ bloke James is, it ain’t. BOSUN Two ‘undred forty-eight. Two ‘undred forty-nine. TENNANT
Aaugh! The Bosun holds.
What’s this? ‘As our nut finally cracked?
Tennant’s fists clench and his arms twist within the confines of the rope, but he stays silent. The Bosun resumes. Piper’s expression remains stoic, but worry creeps into his voice. PIPER ‘E’s lucky, ‘e is. Could be much worse, they knew anythin’. Could be ‘angin’. Two ‘undred fifty-one.
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PIPER Oi, where’s the surgeon? Ain’t ‘e gawn stop it? I ain’t seen no man flogged o’er two ‘undred fifty lashes. As he speaks, lights up on one of the wooden cutouts. It’s the surgeon, a bloodthirsty look on his face. Lights down on the surgeon. PIPER Then again, ain’t seen no man flogged fer sedition none. (Pause) ‘E won’t tell ‘em. Two ‘undred fifty-five. Augh! Blast!
The Bosun holds up. BOSUN ‘Ad enough, Seaman? Got some names, eh? Tennant looks back at the Bosun, grits his teeth, and growls, turning back around. The Bosun continues whipping. Tennant’s strength slowly begins to fail him. Two ‘undred fifty-six.
PIPER Bloody fool. Coulda saved ‘imself there, ‘e could. Ain’t me fault if ‘e bleeds out all o’er the Atlantic. BOSUN Two ‘undred fifty-eight. Two ‘undred fifty-nine. Two ‘undred sixty. PIPER Aow, what ‘e did ain’t that wrong, innit? Captain Barrowman ain’t no Nelson, ‘e ain’t. There’s plenty o’ men what’d see ‘im keel’auled, they would.
Two ‘undred sixty-five.
Tennant is starting to lose consciousness. His head turns to Piper. Piper feels the gaze and looks at Tennant.
Fall 2012 · 6
Tennant’s head droops. Two ‘undred sixty-eight.
Piper pulls away from the wooden cutouts. PIPER Oi! Stop it! ‘E’s ‘ad enough! Look at ‘im! ‘Is ‘ead’s saggin’! We’ve learned our lesson! ‘E’s learned ‘is lesson! We won’ doubt Captain Barrowman no more! The Bosun does not pay attention to Piper. He continues beating Tennant. (Incredibly emotional) You’re killin’ ‘im!
Pause. Piper looks out at the audience, guilt, shame, and fear covering his face. That’s what I want to do.
He slides back to his place with the wooden cutouts. PIPER I ain’t gawn do it, though. I ain’t strong like Jamie. I wouldn’ last twelve lashes. I’m frozen. Like the fish Father’d bring up. Starin’ at me, eyes not blinkin’. Gaspin’ at the air like drownin’ men. Couldn’ kill ‘em then, they ‘spect me to kill Frogs an’ Dagos now. Two ‘undred seventy-seven.
By now, Tennant’s back is bloody, his body limp. He does not appear to be breathing. The Bosun unties him, and he falls to the deck, a dead weight. Pause. PIPER Well, ‘ell no! ‘E ain’t the only one what wrote that paper! Jamie won’t die in vain. (shouting) I’m guilty, too! They flogged ‘im, now they can flog me! Piper closes his mouth. The lights come up a little. He steps forward and opens his mouth, but is cut off by the Bosun. Let that be a lesson to you boys!
He walks off stage right. The noises of a ship come back: the wind, the waves, the creak
7 · Persimmons
of wood, indistinct orders and cries shouted by men. The wooden cutouts recede offstage as Piper tentatively walks over to Tennant. PIPER
James? He kneels beside the body.
He looks around, then quickly takes Tennant’s face in his hands and kisses him on the mouth. He spends a quiet moment looking at Tennant before the Bosun re-enters. Oi! Seaman!
Piper stands straight at attention. PIPER
BOSUN Don’ just stand there! ‘Elp me wit’ the body. The Bosun begins to lift Tennant’s legs. Piper stands still. Well, come on!
Beat. Ain’t ‘e gawn ‘ave a proper burial? This ‘ere’s too proper fer a traitor.
Beat. The Bosun drops Tennant and reaches for his cat o’ nine tails. Piper hurries to get Tennant’s head, much more tenderly than the Bosun grabs his legs. They carry Tennant to the edge of the stage, then throw him off. After a pause, there is the sound of a splash. The Bosun grunts and exits. Piper stands over the edge, watching the place where he threw Tennant’s body overboard. He looks up, clearly hurt and conflicted. The lights dim again, like when we were in his head. He is holding back tears. Should I’ve…? He looks down again.
Fall 2012 · 8
A Probable Constantino Cavafis at Age 19
olivia lott A translation of Raúl Gómez Jattin’s poem “Un probable Constantino Cavafis a los 19”
Tonight he’ll go to three dangerous ceremonies The love between men To smoke marijuana And to write poems Tomorrow he’ll get up past noon He’ll have broken lips Red eyes and another paper enemy His lips will hurt from having kissed so much And his eyes will burn like lit cigarette stubs And that poem won’t express his tears
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C o l o ra d o Facts
tim jurney This is a fact: the first mechanic hearts were strung by a man who built puppets who found the starts and stops easy like wooden dummies, hung his cardiac mannequins in bodies sang arias from the ventricles like a ventriloquist does. This is also a fact: there are two people in a theatre of a lot of people and his heart beat like her heart and sometimes they beat at the same time but they never know when of course and then, both awash with salt and blood and tides, the strings between them pull taught, he throws himself onto her, shakes awhile as shells wash over him. This is true: when he lays across her lap his eyes look like glass to her jaw slack, torso collapsed, strings cut. This is also true: when he needs something artificial to pump his blood all she has is her screaming so she throws her voice, plays the ventriloquist and screams, wonders aloud, who let automatic valves become automatic weapons. Fall 2012 路 10
R h eu m a tism
daniel kipp blooz man’s; all up in the fingers like wind in a flute, jazzed out on hot air and cold fronts, the stuff of relations; phone numbers, notebooks filled with Greek, Hendrix, Shakespeare, an index of storms; your words cracked knuckles to rumble crowds. I remember. Even as you tried to hide secrets of; stuck somewhere without thought, ever connected, ephemerally ethereal; weird, how while, a; makes back when, but. All’s left is a haiku to infuse with kung-fu – a favorite of yours; steeped in pedagogy and hindsight, duende, roots, pathos – swell, swell, oh bruised moon
Femme Fatale (charcoal) · Avery Myers-Regulinski
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Fra g m e n t 31
jordi alonso A translation of Sappho There appears to me (again) a sort of goddess. The girl who faced you and had intensely listened to your voices nodding and spilling your laugh out––your sweet laugh out to tumble across the empty air into a wave like warm honey stops my heart, pressing it to my chest. And now, seeing you for a second, my tongue turns into lead and I can’t speak, my tongue dries up into a slab of clay and capillaries of fire spread beneath my sweating skin. I cannot see, and what I hear repeatedly is you, your voice repeating all you ever said. I sweat over the sun and I shiver-shrivel like thirsty grass, still green, my thoughts go and I get closer to death. And yet I suffer I endure.
Fall 2012 · 12
O ver t u re andrew ebner
it desires a small walk to the horizon, as the blue, flat on sea, wraps like a loving body by the waist; a personal formation of being by the edge of sea, as rocks climb gallantly the shore, along a space of a wave that time has stood static, time pensive in empathy for standing stock still; it ponders its position, sea covering legs linking covered shores, blue depth darkens so feet are unreachable and inconsolable lost alone inside many waters; so long legs stand balanced as reassurance, it looks for the boundary of horizons, stares and starts forward to imagine moved to an end like the sea stepped past as though a small stone walked over was left in a responding wake. II. anticipation’s broad shoulders look over your arm at a small spot sit still, along a storm front anticipation rolls over head, and up back, shivers the length making pen hand shake while thunder eats the slow, and a silent lip frowns that sounds imperceptible; hand takes time in the minute, fastens fingernail under the splintered desk and in impact the lightning sets down both there and alongside your quivering, moments to go with the thunder crumbling through
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III. on the airline taking time to look up lines for exit lanes the light brightens up along the cabin front and so opens the door and passenger arises with package and takes seat and time fills rest of cabin you watch wandering in mind at suits and cream-colored blouses resting heavy-hearted on the airline and you’ve forgotten how you got here as the cabin is set off above the ocean and your heart is heavy too you have your baggage in hand and it is a smallness and a quiet calm and you clutch it close the only holding thing left to see besides outside the window your figure stepping slowly across the waters clutching the lightning in its trembling fist with a distant triumph threatening as though a remembered dream awakening that holds the heart as heavy it was once before and warms its walls with a thick breath settling the heavy as distant worry and written memory; and so you journey, homeward going, again.
Cello · Kelsey Rice
Fall 2012 · 14
william plaschke A pretty girl Moans on the phone. A slim suitcase Rests at her feet. Many are rushing past—one man Spots an empty seat, And sits. He is out of place— He has no bags, and is wearing a tux. Next to the girl, he is not yet whole. The girl moans—“But what is love?” She moans. The man stares at the girl’s question mark. Suddenly, he grabs her arm: “We share a similar wonder.” He removes his hand. He places his wrist On top of the arriving flight, curling His fingers to block the cabin’s view of clouds And ants. “That’s impossible,” The girl moans. “Yes,” the man says to her. “Why?” she moans. “One must delay darkness,” he says, Finally whole.
15 · Persimmons
david miller On Donatello’s David he is lithe he is small he is imperfect so inescapably a starless twin of bronze— marble incarnations speak of his conceit— but here his expression is bland his right leg tasteless beneath his metal shell the little noises resonate he freezes and sees shadows creep over tile from right to left— uncertain how to save himself from extinction he stares at Myth’s own mottled skin and feels himself a model of the split between two moments— he wants us to feel the hammer against our skin— calloused hands smooth his face brush the dust from his eyes run a rag along his back— his head may outlast the one between his feet— and he feels he could become more Goliath than his patterned mold—
Fall 2012 · 16
“ Yo u c o uld b u i l d a t a b l e o n i t / And w h e n yo u d i d t h e b l u e s w o u l d come to visit”
elizabeth friedman It’s the discussion about the molecular mass of a sponge’s absorption, a minute detail so pointless compared to the frightful spring sunshine of the fifteenth that it becomes poignant; funny how these effortless threads of detail shimmer among the drained emotions of a tile-under-swift-moving-feet kind of day, a tear-streaking, path-leaving, how-can-I-change-this-memory kind of day. And as much as I would love to turn those radio frequencies that frequent my mind completely off so that silence effortlessly calms the wake of my world, the 15th arrives, and the threads of a how-can-I-change-this-memory kind of day unravel the spools of my thoughts once again. *title from Lynn Emanuel’s poem, “Frying Trout While Drunk”
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T h e Be s t Par t o f Bed fo rd
daniel kipp A peanut butter and mushroom sandwich sticks in my mouth, like memories of tree stumps, sifting purple funk above the skyline, where ice lightning thunders from across the man-made frozen to our ears, open for interpretation. A slug of OJ and our eyes see through the snow, past the toxic and tiles to where tendrils and duck-muck mark old-style Baptist revivals like door frames and lead lines measure out time. We sit on moon rock, a fossilized dino turd, scattered with laughter and roaches – most ours, though we don’t claim to own ’em. At night, we shoulder close and hear the night slapped cold by a defiant tail, distorting the stars. Times like these it’s no wonder how we talk, as if our minds touched, met somewhere between floorboards and book spines, each bending to reach the other.
Fall 2012 · 18
Weary Adventurer 路 Noah Johnson
19 路 Persimmons
In ver t ed Su gar Syr u p
reagan neviska I My shoes are blue ocean blue beaches and footprints plastered in tin foil. I am alone with a bone tail connecting breath mints to swivel chairs. II Trying not to inhale I run into a girl that is a boy that looks like you— ——-It hurts.
Humming the words of a song you played on your knees, plastic bones covered in grass. V Rachel, dear, wife of Douglass, and I move back tires to reveal my heart. You can kiss angels here, leaning against pillars like a finger painting of the dappled afterlife. VI But then again.
III Ants converge on the 3rd day. Cemetery battlements and classroom witnesses play games on iron fences and yellow-green chemical baths. IV It’s 1809 and I am reciting French Idioms to a plastic tree.
Fall 2012 · 20
To m b R aid er
william plaschke Trousers
The day you leave for good is like The day my _______ will fall into a tomb. I’ll need tons of knights to fetch it, And no runts, only big-bearded men Of this mold: they flip pans with eggs When no one is watching, not even Wives or kids or God. With a thud, They refuse rum. They drink air. A ton Of them will do. But who will show up Specifically? Alexander of Rogé? Clement Of Aquitaine? I wish A knight would show up to fetch my _______; If I don’t have my _______, I can’t Survive the cold.
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Her Eyes (charcoal and graphite) 路 Avery Myers-Regulinski
C l ow n
lucas ropek the Imp speaks to him like spirits at a Pentecostal birthday party firefly eyes and jack-o-lantern light spilling out of teeth and messy untempered sometimes cruel laughter
Fall 2012 路 22
2 3 Vi e w s o n th e Utah Cl iffs
andrew ebner 1. my mind before was with the lily of the valley a delicacy with trouble thinking when consumed and now it is so dry here this is no place for me it is too quiet and honest 2. it asks to feel the weight of the world with each event obstreperous when the morning has its light fallen above the eastern mountain the subsequent sun comes to plunge into the soft shadow of noon and try to eat the shade that creeps over crevices 3. impermanence of mountain once there was a campfire here it must have lifted away 4. a strong shrug and there is nothing necessary some wish for stairs and a waterless shrub 5. at the top of the cliff it will become hard to breathe with words languid and serene silence eats into the chest 6. bleeding pomegranate seeds behind the footprints soft step along steep shot at top climb red fists and fingers clenched hidden and with fingernails embedded begging bedding from warmth and cracking skin side to side and from top below
23 路 Persimmons
there is the terror of an inward wave of warmth there is an inimitable enrapture wrapping around 7. there was a time when the top was seen and desired for climbing now here is the movement and the climb that demands steady peace and patience you do not argue with a rope it is not good at arguments 8. a lizard belly burnt beyond recollection and welded into the stone 9. as the rocks grew in time knowing better their height like an old friend returning with a warmth felt intensely my bones grew too though slowly and needing coaxing if I were like a mountain I could hope to match its red suit and matchless manner 10. a rock plummets it is now not the mountain it is a hill and easy to scale 11. the bridge leans from the left to the right as though tired from touching a cloud when once the world were low-hanging you could pluck one and eat it snack on cumulus and save some for supper and a few for breakfast and a few for safe keeping
Fall 2012 路 24
12. there are no more handholds a bird passes by 13. blue sky sly and looking mighty fine 14. a howl; wind and nothing more 15. at the top of one better see another if this is climbed so too must the other 16. weary of sun it crawls under crevice and rests 17. to move a mountain one must begin by touching stones 18. the bird lifted the cliff on its wings under the right wing was the world on the left was possibility it settled down and threaded the cliffs through its nest 19. the cold visits without its mask so I would not forget its face with its torment
25 路 Persimmons
20. though far away the rock stops trying to be and so belongs again to the sea 21. with a lift the scene settles with a settle the lift liberates the cliff passes by in its perambulations it forgets why it came it rests for a while 22. a car spreads dust through two monuments that look into the car window them leaned over a wide shadow of their own doing with the wide weight of curiosity pulling 23. the sunset lasted as though the day thought it was still morning day left lifting itself quiet and slow turning around to put its slippers on like having slept in the time was gone twisted back and quick to another night the day was stock still in hurt quiet wondering when the time began to go for to settle in and know of an evergoing wakening was once a full feeling when warmed at first by morning but now in its quiet pain it told itself it would have to walk this way again
Fall 2012 路 26
A Tra n s l a tio n (ad mitted l y g uided)
rachel gorsky Si vero me amauisses, meum mundum passus esses If truly really actually? literally (no) you loved had loved had fallen for me, Then you would have should have (yes) endured been patient with? suffered through my world (implies madness) my life (no) my love (ugh) me.
Plane and Tractor, Wynkoop Airport 路 Ariana Chomitz
27 路 Persimmons
He W h o Never Un d er sto o d
olivia lott a translation of Raúl Gómez Jattin’s poem, “El que no entendió nunca” You were a weak witness Didn’t understand Didn’t help the victim You were an accomplice of betrayal and ignorance You tactically accepted that that man wasn’t worth it When they brought him to the slaughterhouse you were close to him and only bestowed hostile glances When they asked you if that friend in his poems was you you denied it furiously Now that you live amongst everyday things do you forget that illustrious time when you had poetry at your feet?
Fall 2012 · 28
Sl a ve Revo l t Po ems
tim jurney I. Victorious Anne I am the unnamed slave boat captain whose white hand shoved the slaves down into the hold and I am the open black mouth of the hold but also I am the open red mouth of a white man in the black shadow of a tiger leaping with the strength of 500 mouths deep in the black mutinous hold and as the tiger leaps my cries are heard only by other doomed men and also in the history books that white boys read 500 years later and shudder quietly in one more failed attempt of skin refusing to shed. II. Misericordia As a child I counted with my fingers to eleven incessantly one On the Gambia River two as his father fought the White men three he (whose name I wish to know) four sat counting his fingers
29 路 Persimmons
five and when the Captain Estevao Carreiro switch hands (whose name I do not wish to know) six saw that all was lost seven he did the most cowardly thing eight and blew up the ship nine and the he (whose name I wish to know) ten only got to switch hands eleven III. Two Friends The captain logged lost the best of what we had and didn’t know he was referring to himself. IV. Perfect The crew dead, they slipped back to kingdoms and serfdom and selfdom and most of them got there and that makes those who didn’t all the more tragic and it doesn’t make me feel better that the hands that snatched back the unlucky were black because it only means we all are descended from some kind of slaveowner.
Fall 2012 · 30
W h i s k ey an d Oth er Spir it s
The place hadn’t changed much. It had the same tacky lighting and androgynous bartenders—even the drinks hadn’t increased in price, despite the sinking economy. Michael sat at the bar, uncomfortable in his baggy black sweater and wishing he had brought a book so that he didn’t look so alone. He didn’t recognize any of the people around him. Everyone looked younger, and hipper, and the middle-aged couples he had spotted before were nowhere to be seen. He ordered a whiskey and coke and stared out the window, silently tearing a cocktail napkin to pieces. He was on his third drink when someone spoke to him. “You forgot your glasses.” It had been over five years, but he recognized the voice. He turned and saw the redhead in the blue dress, sitting next to him, regarding him over her folded hands. “I—” he said, astounded that she remembered him, or that he remembered her. “Last time you were here you wore glasses. What happened?” She tilted her head. Same blue eyes, he thought. Or gray. And what was wrong with her dress…? “I stopped wearing them. When I was looking for—I thought that the glasses would be an obstacle, or something. It was stupid.” Michael took several large gulps of his whiskey and coke. He noticed the empty space in front of her and signaled at the bartender. “Let me buy you a drink.” “Michael Field,” she said, looking at him, smiling. “The first man to discover spiritual resonance. I should be buying you a drink. How long has it been since I last saw you in this bar? Five years?” She leaned forward, and raised her eyebrows. “Have you been hunting for ghosts all that time?” Michael stared at her for a second. Then he raised his glass, downed the rest of the whiskey, and slammed it on the counter. “Sure, buy me a drink,” he said, “I’m the man of the hour, the fool of the year, the idiot of the century. I’m the man who can’t handle his own research. I’m a hero for scientists everywhere!” It was then that the alcohol started to hit him hard. He hadn’t had anything to drink in weeks. Michael leaned on the bar, swaying towards the woman, taking in the way her hair curled around her collarbone, the silver glint of her earrings. “I bet you’ve had an encounter. I bet you’ve felt the chill, tasted the bitterness, felt like you were having a drink—I mean—dream—” he stopped abruptly, closed his eyes, and put his head on the counter. “Nope,” she said softly, almost under her breath. “Just the opposite.” “Thing is,” Michael slurred, head still on the bar, “it’s impossible to give anyone an answer. ‘Are they souls?’ the Christians ask me. ‘Are they aliens?’ asks the President. Are they dangerous, should we avoid them, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.” He raised his head, eyes unfocused. “Is this what Darwin felt like? All of evolution unfolding in front of him, everyone’s questions and doubts and
31 · Persimmons
expectations, and he’s responsible for all of them? They asked him for his answers, and he gave them, but they were wrong, and I’m going to be wrong, I know it, because I can’t even experience my own goddamned discovery!” The woman sighed and rested her head on one hand, letting her hair brush the scarred surface of the counter. Michael traced one finger in the condensation left by the glasses on the bar, making loops and swirls with the water. “Just the one true line of thought,” he muttered, “and that’s as far as he got. Everything else—” he swiped his hands at the water, smearing it into a puddle. “Bullshit.” Silence fell. Then the woman spoke. “You know, I was religious.” She prodded the ice in his glass with a stir stick. “Before this whole SR thing.” Michael pushed himself upright. “Oh. I’m sorry.” “No, it isn’t your fault. But just knowing that there are souls—” she raised a finger as Michael opened his mouth, “I know you don’t know if they’re souls, just go with it for a second—knowing that there are souls just hanging around, nothing to do but throw some gawkers for a trip… what kind of afterlife is that?” “So you don’t think they…” Michael made a motion with his hand. “Go on?” She gave him a look. “I think it’s like this. I guess we have souls, right? So when we die, they’re trapped in this SR field, as you’ve proven. And since our living souls don’t register in the field, the really active SR spots must be the accumulation of millions and millions of dead ones. Which means that no one goes.” She leaned forward on the counter, rubbing her shoulders. “They just gather, like dust.” Another silence. Michael didn’t recognize the song playing in the background, but he could hear the thump of the bass. The woman chewed on her lip. Swirled her drink. “Why does it still worry you so much? You’re off the project. Let it go.” Michael breathed out. He looked down at the counter, scratching the surface. When he spoke, he spoke slowly, hesitantly. “When I detected the first SR, when I first realized what all this meant, I had this thought. If they are souls, like, the individual souls of people who had died, then I could— I could find my mom. But then I spent five years visiting all the hotspots in the country, trying to feel something, anything, and…” he tapped his fingers on his glass. “I’m starting to think they don’t exist. I—I don’t believe in my own discovery.” The woman’s eyebrows knit together. “So you don’t think that these spirits are actually souls.” Michael gave a weak laugh. “I don’t think these ‘spirits’ are actually anything. Honestly, I think—” he swallowed. “I think I picked up on some thermal fluctuation or something, and people let their imaginations do the rest.” He fell silent, eyes fixed on his drink. The woman tapped her temple, thinking. “Well,” she said, “it’s probably time you tried looking for something else.” Michael gave a dry laugh. “Yeah. Yeah. It’s just all I can think about, that’s all.” He lifted his glass to down the contents and discovered that there was nothing but ice left. The woman shrugged, then smiled. “Is it really?”
Fall 2012 · 32
Michael looked at her, then. Really looked. Took in her eyes, the glow of her skin. “No, I guess not,” he said, softly. He gestured at the bartender. “Let me pay for your drink.” She stood, collecting her purse. “If you must.” Michael paid the bill and followed her out the door without realizing that the four whiskey and cokes he had paid for were all his own. “So, I’m sorry if this seems forward, but would you like me to walk you home?” Michael asked, outside the bar. The woman had her back to a streetlamp, and Michael couldn’t make out her face in the glow of gold light around her. “No, I don’t think I’m going back tonight,” she said. Michael shuffled his feet. “Well, it was nice talking to you—” Before he could finish his sentence she stood on tiptoe and kissed him. Michael didn’t feel her lips. Cold shot through him, and the hair on the back of his neck rose. It was the smell of dead leaves and bitter coffee and falling asleep, all rolled into one. He understood. When he opened his eyes, she was gone. Michael touched his lips, and took a shaky breath. He looked up and down the street. Behind him, a pair of men staggered out of the bar, laughing about something, but he couldn’t understand what it was. He waited until the sounds of their shouts had faded away, then shoved his hands in his pockets and started walking. The lights of the city winked at him like stars, and at that moment he couldn’t have told you which was which.
Angular Momentum · Melissa Nigro
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Wh a t i s L o st
natalie wardlaw Supposedly, all statues used to have eyes, painted in tempera, pupils and irises looking back at their human counterparts, but time is cruel to those things not carved in stone, so as Greek ideals faded and the Roman Empire fell the eyes of their heroes washed out into grey voids that no longer gazed back, but looked nowhere, and fingers crumbled and arms broke off and noses chipped until human resemblance was handed entirely back to the imagination and people forgot about pupils and they stopped hoping for irises and began accepting the absence of a soul in stone.
Fall 2012 路 34
Po s t c a rd Po ems
hannah saiz I. This is a postcard poem a composition without discernible meaning, but of some import to a faceless writer, hidden in a neverland she’s always longed to escape. II. This is a postcard poem that was purposefully misaddressed so I can tell you, instead of him, just how much I miss you because it’s been far too long already and I’d still cross the world by foot for you - for him. III. This is a postcard poem in memory of the Lamp Guy who goes from dorm room to dorm room to steal lightbulbs that have gone bad, to replace them with good bulbs so that all the students can study - thanks, man.
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IV. This is a postcard poem to warn you about the ice outside, and to suggest ice cheats because it’s still raining, and we’re due for more slippyslidy until the whole world is encased. V. This is a postcard poem about how damn much I enjoyed your bits of past, captured for the world to see, and recall in collective memory, like I had been there, had known the people, had really lived. VI. This is a postcard poem in awe of experience and bravery, of power and independence, of promise - both kept and made with intentof the beauty contained within and the people with the ability to see it.
VII. This is a postcard poem written to tell you that I know what it feels like to fail on purpose, and still be mad at yourself afterwards, and yeah, it sucks but every moment you can learn from, take the chance - improve.
X. This is a postcard poem addressed to a missing soul, someone I once knew, who never knew I knew everything important it’s okay, I promise and things won’t go wrong, just let the world happen to you - try to be free.
VIII. This is a postcard poem to recapture the warmth of a friendly hand on your shoulder and the gentle voice that says “You’re better than that” but I’m beginning to wonder if that’s a warning or if it’s a promise. IX. This is a postcard poem to tell you how lovely you looked in the cafeteria that afternoon, standing and staring into the crowd, looking for friends and right before you turned to leave, I wished I had the courage to tell you.
Fall 2012 · 36
Au t u m n Day
carolin hahnemann a translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem, “Herbsttag” Lord, it is time. Summer was large indeed. Conceal the sundails beneath your shadow, and on the meadows let the winds roam free. Command the lingering fruits to be fulfilled; grant them another two or three warm days, press them toward completion and instill the final sweetness n the heady grapes. Who’s got no house will not start building now. Who’s on his own now will be for some time, will read, write letter, lie awake at night and in the park under the quivering boughs walk to and fro restlessly as the leaves blow by.
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david miller the cliffs are beyond me spaces where no one would build are slipping away across the ocean if i let the water wrap around my ankles have i made contact? can i hope that through osmosis it pervades me swimming through my blood rising through me urging me to be can i no longer conceive of the small island catching the infinite ocean spreading toward me grounding me i hear no waves except through the spare scribbling in a pocket notebook and then i wish i could set fire to a map of the world
Fall 2012 路 38
Untitled · Claudia Pepe
T h e Fl y paper
a translation of Robert Musil’s work, “Das Fliegenpapier” Tangle-Foot flypaper is about thirty-six centimeters long and twenty-one centimeters wide; it is coated with a yellow, poisonous paste and comes from Canada. Whenever a fly settles on it—not especially eagerly, more out of convention, because so many others are already there—they adhere at first just with the peripheral, buckled segments of their tiny legs. A quite muted, disconcerting feeling, like when we walk in darkness and step with naked soles on something that is nothing but a soft, warm, disconcerting resistance, floods into gradual, horrific humanity when we recognize it as a hand that somehow lies there and holds us fast with five fingers, becoming ever more noticeable. Then they stand, forced upright like victims of nervous disorders that do not want to make themselves known, or like decrepit old military men (and with their legs somewhat in the shape of an O, like when one stands on a sharp ridge). They gather their composure, strength, and thoughts. After a few seconds they are resolute and begin what they are capable of doing, buzzing and raising their bodies. They engage in this furious behavior until exhaustion forces them to adhere. A pause for breath and a new attempt follow. But the intervals become ever longer. They stand there and I feel how puzzled they are. Bewildering hazes climb
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from beneath. Their tongues grope forth like little mallets. Their heads are brown and hairy like they are made from a coconut, like anthropomorphic African idols. They lean back and forth on their little tied-up legs, bend their knees and lift themselves up like humans, trying in any way to lift a heavy load; more tragically than workers they do it, truer in athletic expression of extreme strain than Laoco枚n. And then comes the always identical moment when the desires of a present second triumphs over all more permanent feelings of existence. It is the moment when a climber willingly loosens the grip of his hands because of the pains in his fingers, when one who is lost lays in the snow like a child, when one who is followed stands still with burning flanks. No more do they lift themselves up with all their strength from below; they sink in a little and are at this moment fully human. Immediately they are gripped in a place higher up on the leg or on the back of their torsos or at the end of a wing. When they have overcome the mental exhaustion and, after a little surge, take up the battle for their lives again, they are fixed in an awkward position and their movements become unnatural. Then they lie on extended back legs with their knees akimbo and try to lift themselves up. Or they sit on the ground, reared up with outstretched arms, like women who try in vain to pull their hands from the fist of a man. Or they lie on their stomach with head and arms forward, like they have fallen while running, and hold only their faces high. But always the enemy is merely passive and wins easily in these frantic, confused moments. A nothing, a something pulls them in. So slowly that one is hardly capable of following it and mostly with an abrupt acceleration at the end, when the last internal collapse comes over them. They suddenly let themselves fall forward onto their faces and over their legs, or sideways with all of their legs extended, often also onto their sides with their legs rowing backwards. They lie there like this. Like overturned airplanes with one wing towering into the air. Or like dead horses. Or with endless gestures of despair. Or as if asleep. Even on the next day, one will sometimes wake up and tap a while with a leg or whirr with a wing. Sometimes such a movement will go over the whole field and all of them sink a little bit more into their death. And only on the side of the body close to the leg joint do they have a small, flickering organ that lives much longer. It opens and closes, one cannot describe it without a magnifying glass, it looks like a miniscule human eye that opens and closes ceaselessly.
Fall 2012 路 40
Un b o u n ded Fl igh t
claire weibel She is a bird, her white skirt fluttering in the wind. Her golden hair dances as she flies, Her sun-kissed cheeks full of spirit and life. She possesses a freedom we only dream of, A grace we can’t imagine, A beauty of inexpressible awe. She will not stay. She is not bound. She comes and goes like autumn leaves In a cool evening breeze. She floats among the stars While we are rooted. She extends a piece of herself for all, Free for the taking. We keep the piece long after she leaves, Long after she is free. We stay rooted. She stays free.
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SC Dragonfly 路 Elizabeth Friedman
T h e I Th at is Yo u
rim yoseph In defining something of myself, I am, in effect, making it myself. But it is not really I. It is the idea, the perception of I. In defining I, I have internalized their opinion that is not true, thereby creating a false me that I am expected to live by and believe. But I am not this false I. I am Me.
Fall 2012 路 42
He i rl o o ms (a sestin a)
emily graf I was born the day grandpa started chemo—he listened to Minuets until the end. Tubes wound like cursive letters from his wife eighteen years later. She wheezed “don’t be rude” before impatience tricked me out the door. I’m prone to blush German-red, unknowing inheritor of turquoise, short fuses and alcoholism, of cake recipes and guilt. Details were lost in the mix, meaning: I listened to Lakota-wishful-thinking, wound up dark enough, and at year’s end I want to get down on my knees in the dirt before smoking gods and pull hard, ugly beets prone and purple from the earth. Nineteen years of wiping the white from my face. Of lying half naked begging for cancer from a crass sun. Before I met him hours spent themselves without me. Yesterday I listened to our couples’ photos eating dust to quiet my wounds. Underneath armored words I am prone to painstaking love, like my mother. Grandma’s geraniums quavered tiny as freckles—in all her years she never once apologized. Still, the wound ear of a shell where I listened for answers is enough to warrant forgiveness. Before winter sweeps it blind, before cold nights draw bright lines from sky to prairie, I’m prone to dream Minnesota’s scrub and moonlight listened for our homecoming footfalls, but we were too late. Years fall between me and the rusted bathtub. Of course, I will fail to apologize the way he wants me to. Wounded
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boys make for bad passersby. Wound tight as pale geraniums before spring, my grandfather and my father fished for gleaming hazel trout in Forest City, for creatures prone to love our homelessness. I’ve spent years pretending not to regret empty afternoons. I should have listened to my grandmother and her tubes.
Mu d dy R iver s (a rap)
avery anderson I feel a chill across my back, sending shivers down my spine I wonder where I’m at, muddy rivers intertwine Wash away the blood, and wash away the dirt Let this flood take away, all the pain and all the hurt I sit beneath these stars, talking to myself Wondering what it is that’s ours, as I tear down this shelf I fell into that field, shaking legs and faking smiles Forgetting how to yield, I fell victim to the miles The truth is cold, and the sky is dark Alone I rest my mind, tryna find an answer to The question mark, the undefined But my voice is spent, and silence bought My feet are stuck in the cement, head trapped in thought My nervous system fails, as I’m lost in the air Wind tries to fill my sails, but I’m not going anywhere So I stare up above, blindly looking for a chance To regain hope and love, in the stars as they dance
Fall 2012 · 44
Od e t o Bread
jordi alonso From the creaking of the kitchen drawer as the stainless steel vessels that are your caretakers wake in the afternoon marigold light reflecting on the maple molded mica countertop, from the willful kiss of wheat flour as it meets the egg white and yolk that once fit in a cream-colored crust as smooth as yours is: crafted carefully to keep whatever mie the moment calls for moist and filling–– you are made for the dark day your baker needs your warmth to gorge on; you bow and become black bread as the rye strengthens you, warm hands guiding, punching, kneading, forming, reshaping you into rugbrød baked strong and cut thick, for salmon or caviar; to the general diner, transubstantiation from black bread to biscuit seems unlikely, and yet as tears turn to dimples, sourdough sweetens.
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On e D r i nk and th e So u thbound Train
rachel gorsky It was in the way you looked at me how you took my hand and though I knew in my mind in your eyes in the half drunk glass beside me that you were joking. It was in the pinch of your cheeks how your teeth did peek their way into my sight no malice no lie no trickster’s gleam just mirth, pure and simple. It wasn’t a fault of yours Only mine for forgetting momentarily how to laugh.
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Inter s e c t i o n
hannah saiz The crossroads came to a point. A wooden sign waited in the middle. The gods stood there, just looking. “End?” Jenna inquired. There was no one around to answer. “End?” The woods echoed back, like they were laughing. “End.” Maybe no one could hear them. The intersection point was empty when the gods found their bearings to start again.
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The Fall 2012 issue of Persimmons Literary Magazine.